Building a Happy Home for at-risk children in Fiji
Until the age of eight, Sujit lived in a chicken coop, causing him to be feral-like and wild. Elizabeth discovered him after he had spent 22 years tied to the wall of the old folks home where he lived.
Soon after finding him, Elizabeth undertook the initiative to care for and rehabilitate Sujit. She established her home as the Happy Home, taking in Sujit and three other at-risk boys.
Two years later, Judge Peter Boshier encouraged Elizabeth to approach the Department of Social Welfare & Poverty Alleviation. Together they determined that there were several at-risk boys staying in an institution for young offenders who needed a permanent place to live.
8-12 year old boys are regularly moved out of coed children’s homes. With no other home to go to, they are often placed into reform institutions. Not only does this conflict with the Convention of the Rights of a Child, it exacerbates the problems these at-risk children face.
By 2006, the Happy Home became a solution.
Through the combined efforts of former Minister Adi Asenaca Caucau, the Department of Social Welfare & Poverty Alleviation, Elizabeth’s driving force on the Trust, and significant support from donors and volunteers, a government-owned colonial home was renovated for this purpose.
The Department of Social Welfare gave the Rotary Club of Suva Sujit Foundation the management contract for the home, entrusting it to Elizabeth’s care. She accomplished most of the work through her personal finances and limited private fundraising.
Eventually, according to the policy of Rotary International, Rotary stepped aside and the Sujit Kumar Happy Home Trust was formed. The government contract ended, and the Home was relocated to it’s current address on Fletcher Road in Suva Point.
In 2015, Elizabeth renovated the home and its outbuildings to create the Happy Home Apartments. The home is still available for children to live, but these short-term rentals provide funding for the operations of the Happy Home. In this way, the organization is moving to become self-sustaining so that it can provide for the care of Sujit Kumar and other at-risk children for years to come.